“The Moodys” digs into family dysfunction for Christmas

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

Elizabeth Perkins stars in the limited series "The Moodys."

The Moodys | Wednesday, Dec. 4, 9 p.m., Fox

Welcoming your adult children home for the holidays sounds dreamy for longtime Chicago married couple Sean (Denis Leary) and Ann Moody (Elizabeth Perkins). Then they start showing up. Dan Moody (Francois Arnaud), the baby of the family, shows up unaccompanied by his girlfriend. Bridget Moody (Chelsea Frei) shows up without a suitcase in hand after fighting with her husband. Eldest child Sean Jr. (Jay Baruchel) never left home, and that’s becoming a drag for his parents. Throw in a cousin, a thwarted romance or two and some medical surprises, and you have an imperfect Christmas — the only kind this family seems capable of having.

Elizabeth Perkins, who previously played Jackie O’Neill on HBO’s “Sharp Objects,” spoke to The Post from LA, where she was besieged by allergies.

When we last saw you, you played the woman who knew the town’s dark secrets on “Sharp Objects.” Did you feel you needed a complete change of pace when you read the script for “The Moodys?”

I so prefer doing comedy in general because it’s just easier to go to work. I just finished something called “Truth Be Told” with Octavia Spencer for Apple TV. That was a strong drama that we filmed for six months. Then when I got “The Moodys,” I was really ready. When I found it would be working with Denis Leary, it was really perfect. We’re from the same part of Massachusetts, so there’s a great through line. We wanted to swear all the time.

Are you from a large family?

I have two sisters. My mother married a widower with eight children. Who does that? There were 11 of us at one point.

In the series, the three Moody children, all adults, have come home with many problems. Why are they having such a tough time?

Now that I’m an empty nester, they come home and you say, “When are they leaving? Why are they here?” They bring all their stuff home. When you’re in your 20s and 30s, you’re figuring yourself out. As a parent you’re trying to help them individually and you’re always failing. You’re always going to fail. Christmas is just so sold to us by the media. I’m in the remake of “Miracle on 34th Street,” and I know what that looks like, but that’s not anybody’s reality. “The Moodys” shows what it’s really like as opposed to that fake-y Christmas we’re presented. That’s what drew me to the project. Christmas is hard. Kids revert to the dynamic of their younger selves. I’m still mad at my sister because she got the Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas and would not let me see the cakes bake.

Ann drops a bomb on the kids to get them to go midnight Mass. Can you explain?

I think it just comes out. Ann’s a slow burn. Things aren’t working out for her. Her husband has cancer. My son from New York doesn’t come home with the girl she wants him to marry. The kids are not falling into line, and she’s had too much wine. I think that’s a more normal response and attitude then we’re going to sit you down and tell you this important thing.

The show is just six episodes. Is there a plan in place to do more?

Right now, we’re calling it a comedy event series. I think the wish is that “The Moodys” will take place in these six-episode storylines throughout the year. They get together over a situation or a family event and it all takes place on three or four days, and Christmas seemed like the perfect occasion to start with. I can’t think of a better foil for me than Denis. If you put me and Denis in a room and told us to fight we’d have a really good time.

It looks like you filmed inside an actual home in Chicago. Did you?

It’s supposed to be a house on the South Side of Chicago. We filmed in Montreal in a 1,200-square-foot home. I think it was the filmmakers’ idea to show the family crammed into a small house. It definitely felt like the walls were closing in. That’s how it feels when you have 12 people crammed at a [dinner] table.

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